As an associate professor at Berklee College of Music, Stein clearly knows a thing or two about delivering a series of studies, where he not only offers an analysis of the pieces and his arrangements – harmonic choices etc – but also a case history of each of the chosen songs, making this volume seem more like an individual tutorial. There is also a CD of Stein’s expertly executed renditions of each song. Although this is a collection of ‘standards’, the arrangements are anything but, exploring the various possibilities offered by the changing structure and format of each song. In some cases Stein explains how he has worked through the song to come to his choice of arrangement, on others he simply offers a history and musical analysis.
It is assumed from the outset that the reader has some musical understanding and a reasonably strong command of the fretboard. But Stein has, it seems, deliberately made these arrangements relatively simple to execute and just in case you might be having fingering problems, has laid down a TAB, so that with practice, each and every one of these arrangements is achievable.
Sadly the excellent text and arrangements are let down by the bass heavy imbalance of the CD recording, which makes the chordal work rather indistinct and ‘woolly’. Having said that, Stein’s artistry and musicianship is a joy to listen in to.
For more go to www.halleonard.com
Fireworks aplenty on this instructional and performance DVD featuring the outstanding talents of Hungarian master percussionist Kornél Horváth, who has appeared on over 300 albums including with Gabor Szabó and Tony Lakatos, and Hungarian-born but now London-based drummer and educator Gábor Dörnyei, whose monster mashing jazz, fusion and groove chops make him a hot call on the capital’s jazz circuit as well as an in-demand player for shows such as the Michael Jackson Thriller production.
Based mostly on their Thunder Duo performances the empathy between these two is astonishing with Horváth essaying a highly musical travelogue across Latin, African and Indian rhythms on congas, udu clay drums, pandiero, bongos and a marimba-like box while Dörnyei stokes huge fires on his vast Sonor SQ kit, complete with a mirror-image Sabian cymbal set up, where the left side ride, crashes and splashes mirrors the right hand set up. Recorded live at Sabian Day in Budapest in 2010, well known drum educator Dom Famularo is on hand to introduce the duo, grin endlessly and throw in a few moves of his own. But it’s Thunder Duo where the rhythmic concepts and exchanges brew and percolate, with a myriad of ideas on offer as inspiration and a riveting lesson in musical communication.
This is the latest offering in the Schott ‘Exploring’ series of books. Acclaimed percussionist Clark Tracey offers a unique insight into the various playing methods and techniques including following scores, unusual time signatures, soloing, and advice on equipment, as well as an entire chapter dedicated to brush techniques. There is also an excellent section on drum rudiments and how these can be extended creatively.
Like the other titles in this series, the book is superbly presented and introduces the subject in a way that is easy to understand. While the book assumes some basic drum skills, jazz technique is introduced in a methodical, structured way with a wealth of examples and studies. You are guided through scores and sequences and can check understanding by listening to the 71 audio tracks and 14 video demonstrations on the CD/DVD, along with exercises performed by Clark Tracey on drums with a live backing band. Playalong tracks allow you to study the styles of the drumming jazz masters such as Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Joe Morello and Tony Williams. Tracks include a timing click, which can be removed by turning off the appropriate stereo track and switching to mono to hear the bass and piano. Excellent.
For more info go to www.schott-music.com
The Mbox2 Mini is not exactly a new product, but a little reminder about this useful pint sized audio tool wouldn’t go amiss. Built out of steel and aluminium, the Mbox2 Mini was always designed for the rigours of the road and the fact that it uses a USB connection to power itself off your laptop further emphasises its travelling credentials – you won’t be searching around for a suitable power supply. All you’ll need to carry around for some midnight mixing is your laptop, the Mbox2 Mini and its USB. If you’re coming to the Mbox2 Mini for the first time, you’ll be pleased to know that along with the industry standard Pro Tools LE software bundle, you’ll be getting Digi’s Method One step-bystep tutorial DVD – so you can’t go far wrong. With a 2 in / 2 out (unbalanced) audio functionality, the main input (line 1), carries both an XLR connection and a 20db pad, and a separate jack for line DI signals. The second input (line 2) offers a straightforward line/DI jack also with a pad.
The twin monitor outs to the right of the back panel tie in with the front panel level and mixing. There is also a Kensington lock port for security and the USB port. To the front panel along with the headphone output jack and the monitor mute button, there are four knobs. The first of these controls the overall output level, while the second blends the input signal with the main output, giving latency-free monitoring when overdubbing. The third and fourth knobs adjust the gain on both input 1 and input 2.
Easy to use and a cinch to transfer sessions between the different software versions – that is from the road to the studio – the MBox2 Mini has already become the travelling companion of many a seasoned musician. But there have always been a couple of things that have bugged me about this magic little box: why isn’t there a digital or MIDI connection? Perhaps it’s just a case of how much can you get on to an interface with a box this size. For more go to www.digidesign.com
This is the latest in a long line of Haynes publications known for their detailed analysis of product with exhaustive diagrams showing every nut and bolt. And nothing much has changed. This expertly researched edition by Paul Balmer looks into and analyses the various elements of the Fender bass using photography and superbly illustrated diagrams and explores the history of the instrument from the very first Mk 1 Precision of 1951, right through to its 2008 Corona counterpart. Needless to say the major part of this manual is given over to tech talk with no less than 50 pages covering repairs, maintenance and adjustments, with a further dozen concentrating on the art of setting up and tuning. It’s all very readable, given Balmer’s chatty and friendly approach. Bass buffs will be pleased to see that they are well catered for by a players and their instruments section which includes some influential bassists including my personal favourite Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn – remember ‘Knock on Wood’ and ‘Hold On I’m Coming’? But perhaps the most inspired addition to this volume is the choice of bassist Carol Kaye to write the forward. She was the “number one call” session player on the West Coast from the early-to-mid-1960s. For more go to www.haynes.co.uk